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Second Life Looks At Scaling Problems

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the build-a-better-moustrap-etc dept.

68

News.com reports that Second Life is looking down the barrel of some major scaling problems as the virtual world's popularity soars. While Linden Labs itself seems confident in the scalabilty of their virtuality, outsiders aren't so sure. From the article: "'My understanding of (Linden Lab's) back-end requirements are that they're absurd and unsustainable,' said Daniel James, CEO of Three Rings, publisher of the online game Puzzle Pirates. 'They have (about) as many peak simultaneous players as we do, and we're doing it on four CPUs.'"

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Is this a point of failure? (2, Interesting)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481056)


FTA: Each server is responsible for an individual "sim," or 16 acres of virtual "Second Life" land. At peak usage that means that each server is handling about three users."

That sounds like a point of failure. What would happen if a large group of mischievous users organize and decide to visit the same 16 acres of land simultaneously?

Re:Is this a point of failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481077)

I believe that the "sims" already have a maximum number of people that can be in them.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

hckrdave (588951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481100)

They did that in WoW it was called the million gnome march. They did it to protest somthing forget what exactly it was... The video was great though.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481120)

Each server supports 16 acres of virtual territory. Now they need to emulate the server itself in the game world. Each acre of virtual territory can hold 100,000 virtual servers for a total of 1,600,000 servers.

Clearly, emulation is the answer.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

KevMar (471257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481151)

a large group of mischievous users would get disconnected because there server reset.

In warcraft, attacks on major cities have been known to bring the server down.

Does second life seperate its users? In warcraft, the player base is seperated across realms that dont interact with each other. When a realm goes down, other are not affected. (except a server will host a few realms, so a server can affect a few realms but not everyone). but its the entire realm that suffers. you have no exscape.

It looks like second life is one large world. If ove piece of land is bad, you can spend some time away from it at a strip club while things settle down.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

zyte (896988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481175)

not quite actually, they have a limit to number of people able to get into a sim. Think waiting in line to get into your realm. That's pretty much it minus the counter.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

KevMar (471257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481577)

unfortuantly, this happens alot on some warcraft realms. People have no way to avoid it.

The sad thing is the new realms have a rush of people trying to avoid there wait times and create wait times on those servers.

So what is the limit on a sim? would they place more popular sims on better hardware to raise the cap?

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481771)

The biggest problem lately is trouble causing users writing self replicating script objects that start spewing out objects as fast as they can. Brings the whole system down. A few weeks ago it was down for a weekend while they tried to stop it.

It limits the number of users to ~50 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481176)

Specifically, you can gather 50 people on one 16-acre server, and 50 more on each of the surrounding 8 (think like a checkerboard) except in special circumstances when Linden Labs raises the limit for whatever reason.

To be fair, the limit used to be as low as 20 I believe. So each of their physical servers can actually handle a fair amount of load. A LOT of that space is simply Not Used however. But there's a fairly insideous "GOTTA BUY LAND!" process attached to Second Life that rather heavilly encourages many people to buy land that never use it for anything more than planting a single huge wooden cube (the default texture and object you can create) and calling it a statue they happilly pay $10/month to show off.

Re:It limits the number of users to ~50 (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481547)

Just curious, lets say I am one of those ventures that buys large amounts of land in SL. Can I pay extra for a expensive server to run my land so that I can support hundreds on my 16-acre??

Re:It limits the number of users to ~50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481742)

You can purchase your own Private Island for $1250.00 and $195/mo. You get 16 acre's and 15000 prim's to place down in whatever manner you wish.

Re:It limits the number of users to ~50 (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482682)

Yes, BUT if my private island is limited to 50 users at the same time that sucks. Question is can I pay for a higher end server to handle more users???

Re:Is this a point of failure? (2, Interesting)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481227)

If you read the article, it's clear that each server isn't limited to three users: it means that the system is such that the number of peak users divided by the number of servers is 3. I'm sure that they have more than three users in a given 16-acre area at any given time. (16 acres is fairly large, actually).

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481247)

I doubt it's a point of failure.

Their "3 players per server" was thrown out as a contrast to every other online game that has hundreds~thousands of users per server.

The question: If your user population explodes, how are you going to afford all the servers necessary to keep such a low player:server ratio?

The answer: Our servers are cheap and quickly/easily deployed. Don't worry about it, we're fine.

And Linden Lab claims they'll be profitable soon.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481386)

Actually, the answer is, they have more than enough servers to handle a large influx of players already. Their architecture is alloced based on virtual *land* not virtual *people*. Sure, if a single area gets incredibly crowded, they might have to look into a slightly more expensive version of the cheap throw-in server, but that's not even remotely a scalability issue.

Not a hypothetical question (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481284)

That sounds like a point of failure. What would happen if a large group of mischievous users organize and decide to visit the same 16 acres of land simultaneously?

Never mind mischevious users. A more important question is this:

What would happen a large group of normal users decide to visit the same 16 acres of land for reasons having nothing to do with mischief or organization?

As it happens, we see the answer to this question every single night. For example, there's somewhere in the world that's like the linden town square or something. It's your default "warp home" point after you first sign up for an account. This invariably has maybe ten to a hundred people in the area. You ask, what if a large group of people decide to all warp here at once--? Well, since it's the default warp point, they invariably will--?

And the answer to the question is "the game becomes unusably slow for anyone foolish enough to have entered this area". The way Linden Labs is dealing with this? They, uh. They split the town square area into four chunks such that the very center of the square rests directly on the boundary of four different acre servers. Which helps the slowdown there a little, but what about other situations where a large group of non-mischevious users may decide for totally natural reasons to all go to the same place at the same time-- say because there is an event or a party? This is a social game. The entire point of the game is to accumulate many players in one place at a time.

And as it stands, the [non]scalability is the game's worst problem. You basically never get even remotely acceptable framerates unless you're standing in one of the sandboxes by yourself or with maybe one other person.

Re:Not a hypothetical question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15482618)

> You basically never get even remotely acceptable framerates unless you're standing in one of the sandboxes by yourself or with maybe one other person.

You report does not match my real-world experience. Try warping to "Heaven Above the Clouds" some time. I get 95-100% of the simulation frame-rate and 20-45 video FPS.

Re:Not a hypothetical question (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15490096)

Theoretically, ech server has a set limit of users (users who try and cross into a full server get bounced from that sim). In practice (at least a year or two ago when I used to "play" SL) the server often will just begin acting flaky, then crash and reboot.

-Eric

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481303)

You're misunderstanding. It's not that the server can only *handle* 3 users, its' that the average user-load of their servers is 3 users. The busy areas will have *many* more, and the empty areas will have none. I'll agree with the comments at the story about this being a *wonderful* environment for virtualization to allow multiple low-user areas to 'idle' on the same single piece of hardware.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481367)

The problem is that virtualization is a resource hog. If one of the empty areas suddenly had an influx, they'd need some way to move it to a normal server, or it wouldn't be able to handle many people.

Re:Is this a point of failure? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481806)

SL can easily take more than 3 users per sim(server), it just averages out to that because there are so many sims in the SL world.

That's not to say that it doesn't have problems. More than a bunch of people standing around, the bigger problems come with complex scripted objects dragging down the sim. You may only have 6 people on that particular server, but there still easily be 4000 scripts running in all the different objects laying around.

Not to mention that the clientside stuff can get pretty bad too. SL has graphics that could be called "dated" at best, and it's still hard to get decent frame rates. It's sometimes hard to tell whether the lag is on your side, on the server, or a mix at times; but there's no arguing that it's often quite bad.

The welcome area often has 40+ people in it, and it's generally slow. People tend not to congregate into groups any larger than that because the lag quickly takes the fun out of it. And if you really want to be mischievous, there are plenty of easier ways than gathering a large group of people. Abusing the object scripting and causing trouble is not uncommon.

Edward Castronova? (4, Funny)

tdvaughan (582870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481098)

"They're succeeding because of their radically different approach to this business," said Edward Castronova, an expert on virtual worlds and the world's greatest sterile lover.

Re:Edward Castronova? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481184)

They're not even profitable yet. These guys are an overfunded joke.

Daniel Terdiman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15482500)

(EOM)

Re:Edward Castronova? (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15484787)

Castrati (singers who were castrated before puberty, allowing them to keep their high range) actually used to be great favorites of the women for some odd reason. One let his brother take advantage of this by leaving them in a seduceable state for him.

Article author not very clued (2, Insightful)

jbellis (142590) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481142)


[uses] an unusual configuration that dedicates each server to a sliver of virtual real estate


Er, no, that's not really very unusual at all, for MMOs, and dates way, way back. (Well, as much as anything in MMOs goes "way back...")

It has a number of advantages and disadvantages over other architectures; it's generally thought to be more complex in terms of synchronization w/ "neighboring" servers, for instance, but this isn't something that would make someone who knows what he's doing go "WTF?" It certainly doesn't have inherent scaling problems.


(x86 is the processor architecture used by most AMD and Intel chips)


I think this is representative of the author's tech clue.

--
Carnage Blender [carnageblender.com] : Meet interesting people. Kill them.

Re:Article author not very clued (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481219)

"(x86 is the processor architecture used by most AMD and Intel chips)"

Seems like a valid statement to me. Have you looked at Intel's chip line up lately? They aren't all x86.

Re:Article author not very clued (1)

dancpsu (822623) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481551)

I've always wondered if it would be possible to have something like Second Life distributed in such a way that is similar to the web and instant messaging. You direct connect to your friends to share your game state, and you download areas (levels?) from webservers. It would make the people who built levels only have to have a web host (maybe php/cgi enabled) and that be it.

Of course, there wouldn't be the traditional money involved, but that didn't stop other web projects.

Distributed SL (1)

reed (19777) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482588)

Many people have often tried to hack web stuff into doing shared 3D. For example, the Open Source Metaverse Project [sf.net] uses an SQL database to store stuff and web servers to serve it.

It really doesn't make a ton of sense once you start trying to do it, other than the fact that web technology is already deployed. Just getting the initial data to people is not hard. Its how to implement changes, interaction, etc.

SL is build both technically and socially on the idea of real estate. The scalability of that is one aspect in which it doesn't work right. But this kind of thing is a hard problem. It's something we have thought about in designing another open source shared virtual environment based on the Virtual Object System [interreality.org] but have not yet implemented anything to solve it in our servers. (Though the tools are there for it to be added in the future.)

Re:Article author not very clued (1)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 8 years ago | (#15483216)

I would love to see something like a distributed 2nd life.. sl:// or something.

Ambitious indeed! (1)

vhold (175219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481143)

"Last March, Cory Ondrejka, the chief technology officer at "Second Life" publisher Linden Lab, bet a symbolic quarter that his virtual world would within two years have more users than the wildly popular online game "World of Warcraft." ... The bet was certainly ambitious."

That's quite the bet there, speedy. Is it at least a real quarter that symbolizes a real bet or is it actually just a symbol of a quarter? Aaand, who gets the quarter?

Re:Ambitious indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481213)

A bet can only be ambitious if the risk of failure is significant and the consequence of failure is substantial and real.

If he bet is job on it, that would be ambitious. Which, in a way, he is.

Re:Ambitious indeed! (1)

podperson (592944) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481218)

Second Life isn't getting close, and they're giving away accounts. The only way this will come true is if WoW somehow sheds enough players (e.g. by being replaced by WoW2 or something).

I think there's enormous potential for something like Second Life (essentially consider an http replacement/extension that treats "web pages" as locations and allows you to interact with other people in those locations -- 2d/3d doesn't matter), but Second Life isn't it.

Re:Ambitious indeed! (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481417)

Actually, it was shorthand for "the revenue SL takes in in a quarter"

Re:Ambitious indeed! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15490133)

Actually, it was shorthand for "the revenue SL takes in in a quarter"

Ah, there's the trick folks. It's a negative number.

-Eric

With all due respect... (2, Insightful)

wbren (682133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481183)

They have (about) as many peak simultaneous players as we do, and we're doing it on four CPUs.
With all due respect to Daniel James, Second Life is much more complex than Puzzle Pirates. The peak usage numbers aren't the only factor in scalability.

Re:With all due respect... (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15483447)

And that's the point. Puzzle Pirates could support a vastly larger player population with relatively simple hardware upgrades. It is not entirely certain whether or not it is possible for Second Life to support a vastly larger player population without a complete redesign.

Something is said to be scalable if it is relatively simple to make it able to handle larger loads. By all of the available evidence, Second Life does not seem to be very scalable.

Re:With all due respect... (1)

jafuser (112236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15489152)

Puzzle Pirates doesn't let their users create custom content and then let them script it.

A lot of the content in SL is scripted. I've even seen scripted shoes and scripted hair. Most servers have hundreds of scripts running, some thousands. As you might imagine, those scripts consume a lot of resources, along with all the other things the servers have to manage (e.g., havok physics, handling asset requests, communications, etc).

Re:With all due respect... (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15489879)

I'm not debating the fact that SL is vastly more complicated than Puzzle Pirates.

The point is, the fact that it is more complicated may prevent it from ever becoming a large scale success.

Makes Sense (2, Insightful)

BigCheese (47608) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481189)

Since Second Life allows users to create objects for the game world I would expect them to have a lot more CPU dedicated to running it. Since the user content is interpreted (I assume) then you need a lot of horsepower to allow sims to interact with those objects.

Re:Makes Sense (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481453)

This was a major issue for Second Life. I got into it briefly but the total amount of lag involved in trying to design stuff was rediculous.

The game would have been much better if it gave you an off-line sandbox where you could do your design and then move back online when you were done with your object.

Re:Makes Sense (1)

Kelmar (468410) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481545)

Indeed, an off line sand box would be nice.

I have also noticed that scripts are precompiled to some extent (likely into some sort of byte code) so the servers at least aren't having to burn time parsing every time the script is used. Though I do wonder if they do this compiling on the server side or the client. If they do it server side I would think there would be some improvements if they decided to use the client to compile the code and just send the script's text and byte code over the wire.

Re:Makes Sense (1)

BigCheese (47608) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481763)

For security I would hope the compile takes place on the server.

I would also think that by assigning servers to an area if the objects in the area have bugs (naaah, never could happen) it would only disable that parcel of land.

Now if the SL Linux client would actually work I'd be happy.

Surprised this is news... (1)

SirBruce (679714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481215)

I'm surprised this was made into a news story. It's something that people were talking about for a while now. The physics in Second Life are on all the time, even when no one is using that piece of land, so there's a large amount of overhead. I'm sure Linden can still turn a profit, but they're going to need to do some server optimization at some point. Something like a physics co-processor (Ageia or ATI or whomever) might actually be helpful...

Bruce

Re:Surprised this is news... (1)

lord_sarpedon (917201) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481279)

Not if the physics is also done clientside. Which is the most likely case.

Re:Surprised this is news... (1)

Leadhyena (808566) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481566)

This won't work... there needs to be consistent physics for all avs involved, especially with vehicle and house simulation. While the graphics rendering is on the av side, the physics must be on the server side.

Re:Surprised this is news... (1)

jafuser (112236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15489356)

Physics is done server-side using the Havok engine. The client doesn't do much other than very simple prediction to tween.

You can tell it's a sim (1)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481293)

World population is roughly 6.6 billion...
Land acreage is roughly 37.3 billion acres...
That comes to an average population of 2.85 people per 16-acres.

So... 3 people per 16 acres should be the *average* load. In this scenario, I'd guestimate that max would be closer to 50-100x the average if you take into account high population density apartment buildings, etc.

Even if we consider that they aren't simulating apartment buildings, though... my low-population density neighborhood has well over 3 people per 16 acres. Heck... my HOUSE has more than 3 people per 16 acres. I grew up on about a 2-acre lot, in a 7-member household. That's 56 people per 16-acres.

Re:You can tell it's a sim (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481496)

But on the same note, 56 people don't live on 16 acre of farm land. They live in houses and apartments (ie: infrastructures) that are designed to handle that population load.

My assumption is that the 3 people per 16-acres (1 server) is an average. And that in highly populated areas, more powerful servers or arrays (ie: infrastructures) are dedicated to the 16-acre block. On the fringes of the virtual world where population is vastly lower, a bottom end server may host a single person in the 16-acre block.

Not that I am affiliated with the game or it's developers or publishers, nor have I ever played the game. So anything I say is purely speculative.

-Rick

In the real world, the average is 3 people/18 acre (1)

mdfst13 (664665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487446)

In the real world, there are about six acres of land per person. I.e. three people take up about eighteen acres of land (on average). This actually seems pretty accurate.

By contrast, New York City has about forty people per acre.

Of course, that's just land area. If you include water area, both those numbers would be lower.

Land area:
World: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001763.html [infoplease.com]
NYC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City [wikipedia.org]

stupid comparison (4, Insightful)

zyte (896988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481301)

comparing the number of servers it takes to run puzzle pirates and the number of servers it takes to run second life is unbelievably stupid. I'm just going to mention a few main points on how this is ridiculous but I'm sure there are more. Player Created Content. In second life you can upload your own textures, sounds, and model animations to the linden servers. This undoubtly takes up a ton of space. Flexibility of objects. Every object within second life is not only player created, but it's base properties (size, shape) can be manipulated. On top of that most items within the game are made up of multiple objects, so you can have up to thirty individual peices to make up a single hat or chair. Quite a bit of data to push around. On top of that you have the million different variants for the player models themselves, how big the eyes are, does the face slant to the left or the right, D or DD. These are completely different games with completely different amounts of data to push around. Saying second life is poorly managed simply because your game can handle the same number of people on less servers is ignorant and irresponsible.

Re:stupid comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15483480)

You've completely missed the point. Just because Second Life is more complicated than Puzzle Pirates does not change the fact that Puzzle Pirates is scaleable and in all likelihood Second Life isn't.

Re:stupid comparison (1)

danieljames (470520) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573641)

For the record (I'm posting this long after the post) I was quoted thoroughly out of context, and I am fully aware of the differences in requirements between SL and PP. I blogged my views on SL and this issue here;

http://thefloggingwillcontinue.com/?p=9 [thefloggin...ntinue.com]

They are much more subtle than the quote would indicate. Yay, journalism!

The big difference with SL (2, Interesting)

joshv (13017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481422)

The big difference with Second Life (SL), which I am sure is hugely 'wasteful' of server CPU, is scripting. Any user can create an object and attach one or more scripts to it. These scripts can communicate with other objects, with Avatars, change the state of the object, create new objects, listen for input, etc... It is not unusually to see a sophisticated Avatar with many hundred object attachments constituting its 'custom'. Each of these objects can have an embedded script, which runs on the server. That's one Avatar. Now think about ten such Avatars congregating in once place, all of these objects interactive with each other, and the each of the Avatars in real time. This requires a lot of processing power, and loads of inter-object communication.

LSL (the name of the scripting language) is interpretted, and oriented towards simplicity, not speed. It's goal is to make it relatively easy for users to create richly interactive and complex objects, at the cost of server CPU.

So yes, per Avatar, I am sure SL uses more server CPU than any other massively multiplayer game, but that's because it offers an extremely rich and customizable experience.

Re:The big difference with SL (1)

jafuser (112236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15489191)

Another big factor in SL's server load is the Havok physics engine. Sometimes it only takes a few complex physics-enabled primitives to bring a server region to a crawl. Also, avatars are always physics-enabled.

Re:The big difference with SL (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15490056)

Don't forget bandwidth, either. SL, unlike most MMO's, doesn't store ANYTHING locally. Every texture and prim is loaded dynamically from the server (hence all the "draw-in" whenever you fly around). This must eat up a HUGE amount of bandwidth compared to something like WoW.

-Eric

It scales *financially* (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15481743)

The things that distinguish this setup are that

a) They charge users per acre of virtual world that they 'own'. The article claims that the monthly income from 16 acres is $200 - which is gonna pay for a cheap bare-bones server in just a few months. As their user base goes up - so does their income - and so they buy more servers.

b) Remember that user scripts continue to run even when there is nobody inside the 16 acre patch to see it happen. There was a /. story a few days ago about someone who built a system of plants, pollinating insects, clouds and rain in their little patch of the virtual world. Even when that person isn't logged in - and nobody is watching, those acres of virtual world still have to run the weather/insect/plant modelling. It's possible that in this system, the bulk of the compute power is NOT in running users - but in running the world. If that's the case then they may not care about how many people crowd into one area because it's only the owner of that area that's putting out a bazillion scripts.

I think this is a sustainable business model - so long as the amount and complexity of scripting that can be crammed into each 16 acre plot stays within reasonable limits - and I think they can handle that.

Another concern would be if people started leaving the community in droves - then there might be areas of land (ie servers) with only one person homesteading there. This kind of fragmentation of user location might result in the need to run thousands of servers that - whilst paid for as capital assets - are no longer generating enough revenue to pay for their ongoing upkeep. This could probably be handled by forcably relocating people to consolidate acreage - but that might not be too popular.

But all the while the community is growing and thriving - I doubt they have a problem.

Re:It scales *financially* (1)

jafuser (112236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15489330)

The article claims that the monthly income from 16 acres is $200 - which is gonna pay for a cheap bare-bones server in just a few months.

Actually, the price of the server itself is already covered up front. New server regions which are added to the grid are first auctioned off for >=US$1000 (usually to the land resellers).

There is a one-time cost to initially procuring the land you want. If you leave or move, you can recover this cost by selling the land. The monthly fee (from $5 for 1/8th acre up to $200 per 16-acre region) covers maintenance/bandwidth/etc just like web hosting.

Remember that user scripts continue to run even when there is nobody inside the 16 acre patch to see it happen.

Some people might ask why run stuff while nobody is there to see it. The answer is that even in the absence of avatars, some things still need to run. One example is web-activated vending scripts. There are now several web-based stores for purchasing content, which make an XML-RPC or email call into the SL grid to tell one of these scripts to send an inventoried object to a specific resident. These could be called at any time, so it's necessary for the persistance to continue even when there are no avatars present.

Re:It scales *financially* (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15490181)

As their user base goes up - so does their income

Yeah, assuming that everyone in SL buys a $200 a month island of their own. But of the hundreds of thousands of SL users there are, what, less than 100 islands? Many, if not most, aren't paying ANYTHING per month, but are still eating CPU cycles and bandwidth.

-Eric

SL looks like crap (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481840)

Let's just say it. Player generated content is great, but when given too much control, people just start putting all sorts of low-quality nonsense and you have to put with it.

Not to add SL really missed the last few advancements in 3D technology and looks like a bunch of polygonal edgy constructions with blurry textures on it.

I don't know why or how, but their whole site and promotional material looks like created by wannabe's (player content again?).

Their idea is great, but they should really jump into 21-st century I believe.

Is it really that scalable? (1)

wezelboy (521844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482376)

While they make it sound like it is very easy to just throw more CPUs at the problem, my question is...

How are they going to power and cool all of those CPUs?

If SL currently runs on nearly 2600 machines, and each of those consumes a meager 200 watts, you would need about 520kW to power them.

The power needed to cool the machines is even greater.

How much power and cooling capacity does their data center have? What will they do when the run out?

Re:Is it really that scalable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15482911)

How are they going to power and cool all of those CPUs?

As the CTO of a large company, I can tell you what I would do. I would use electricity and air.

Moores law (2, Interesting)

captainclever (568610) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482502)

Moores law will certainly feature in their business plan :)

What is it about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15482620)

Second Life, made for people who have no first life to begin with :)

Phrasing problem (1)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482887)

This seems to be a phrasing problem. It SOUNDS like they're saying "Second Life can only handle three users per server", but what I think they actually MEAN is "Second Life has, on average, 3 users per server during peak usage." In other words, their servers may actually be ABLE to handle 30 users each, or 300 (or 3), but we don't actually know -- all we know is that the server/user ratio right now is about three users per server at peak times.

Very very badly written (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15483021)

That's not how SL is scaled.

First, each virtual island is run on each server, aka a sim. All the users that are in the sim are handled by that sim's server. We've run over 100 users per sim in a conference setting, more by splitting the area over four sims, without too much delay. It's not like all "three people per sim" are spread out, they're may be some sims that don't have anyone in there and can be powered down a bit.

Each user's assets (how the person looks, any attachments to make him/her look freaky/tools and programs) are stored on another set of servers -- from what I remember on earlier reports, they're Linux servers running MySQL slaved together.

This may be different than WoW (although they don't have that much customability and half the graphics can be offloaded to the PC via the CD/DVD), but definetly different than Puzzle Pirates (just four servers? What would you expect for a non-3D enviroment).

Re:Very very badly written (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15490687)

Very very badly written: http://stalag99.net/ [stalag99.net]
GTFO, furry, go back to FurryMUCK. SL isn't going to get any better if they keep hiring freaks for development like Alendria and using you for PR. Your three-breasted SL avatar with nipples bulging through poor Tux and claims that 'Linux is Furry' just begs the mainstream to treat geeks like second class citizens.

Asset servers the problem, not sims! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487335)

In my experience playing SL, there's been far more scalability issues with the asset servers where all the textures and objects are stored than the actual sims. They've been able to cram as many people onto a sim as you can cram into one server for an FPS game, which is pretty damn good. The problem is everyone's inventories is eating up a lot of space and can be painfully slow to access during high recruitment periods, so much that Linden Labs has asked for user cooperation to decrease demand on it in the past.
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